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  1. The Demons withstood a spirited challenge from the Western Bulldogs in the 10th anniversary of the Hampson-Hardeman Cup to run away with it in the last quarter and take their unbeaten run to 12 wins on the trot, an AFLW record. The Doggies were tenacious and their losing score of 6.5.41 was the highest score against Melbourne since their last loss against Brisbane in Round 4 on 18 September 2022. With the sad passing of AFL football legend Ronald Dale Barassi, champion player and coaching maestro, and Friday night’s shattering 2-point semi-final loss to Carlton by the men’s team, we Demon supporters needed something to lift our spirits. Meggs hopes our star AFLW team’s 42-point, entertaining, hard-fought victory at the Field of Dreams, Casey Fields, was cathartic for you too. Our key leaders Kate Hore and Tyla Hanks continue their weekly displays of sublime footy nous and skill execution. Improvement builds across the entire playing group and our depth of personnel and elite fitness levels are the envy of the league. Coach Mick mentioned there is some work to do on our defence. Some would agree. The Bulldogs were terrific with their endeavour, led by star captain Ellie Blackburn and trailed by only eight points midway through the third quarter. Melbourne’s system, fitness and ability to execute our trademark run and carry game style saw the Dees win easily in the end. It was a physical game and the notorious Casey windy conditions made skill execution difficult. Melbourne had 16 players with more than ten possessions displaying the even spread of contribution whereas by comparison the Bulldogs had only ten players. Too many positives to mention everyone but a few: Eliza McNamara is building nicely in her comeback from injury. Loz Pearce has started this season very strongly and her ruck support, young Campbell, looks promising. Tayla Harris had a terrific game and Macken keeps learning, starting at a few centre bounces. The Dees remain second on the ladder after three games on percentage and take on the Hawks away next week. Melbourne will start favourite, but the problem with building a winning streak is the implied pressure of an unbeaten run. In terms of the game: Q1 From the outset such intensity from the Bulldogs.The Dees win a contested ball in the centre and then execute their trademark run and carry. Harris Hore, Purcell and finally Hanks involved, who side steps and pinpoint passes to Mithen. Lily goes back and goals for Melbourne’s first score. Moments later Hore gets high-tackled in front of goal and kicks our second from her freekick. Next Mackin kicks deep inside the 50 to Bannan, who instinctively moves to her right to score but is then tackled by two ferocious Dogs, her shot goes wide but now she’s down in pain. Sadly, Bannan’s day is done. On the last play of the quarter Eliza Mac puts Hore under pressure with her handball and Deanna Berry picks it up and slams it through from 40 metres. Nice goal, she had missed with her two previous attempts. ¼ time: Dees 2.3.15 Dogs 1.2.8 Q2 Again, real intensity from the Bulldogs. Ellie Blackburn leads her team well. Halfway through the quarter Hanksy wins a free and passes to Paxy in a better position who goals. Repeated forward entries and Sherriff kicks a nice opportunist’s goal. Dogs keeping up the effort and stalwart Kirsty Lamb kicks a lovely left foot goal from a throw in. Mick has moved Heath on to Ellie B. Tough gig. Young Rylie Wilcox takes a ripper mark over Eliza Mac and kicks a nice goal. ½ time: Dees 5.7.37 Dogs 3.3.21 Q3 The Bulldogs team intensity continues. Kirsty Lamb, without looking, kicks a miracle goal and it’s a 10-point game. Harris kicks long to Gay who goals. Gillard drops a mark she should have taken, McLoed then runs into an open goal and it’s an 8-point game. From the ensuing centre bounce the Dees win the clearance and Zanker gets on the end for a quick reply. We make it look easy at times. Some more magic from our new forward, Maddi Gay, who gives and gets from Sherriff to kick a rippa goal on the run, her second for the day. Some more confusion from our backs allows McFarlane to run on to a bouncing ball and kick a Dogs goal. ¾ time: Dees 8.7.55 Dogs 6.5.35 Q4 Lily Mithen kicks a nice goal on the run to begin. That’s 2 today. Go Lil. Next Eliza MacNamara kicks a ripping inside 50 low drop punt to hit Kate Hore, lace out. It’s Tayla Harris’ turn to pinpoint Zanker inside 50. Edo bananas a goal on her leftie. Dogs are tiring, the team intensity has waned. Dees running away with it. Hanksy finds Paxy who long bombs her second goal. The siren sounds and it’s a convincing 42-point win. Three zip in 2023. Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear was pleased with the win in tricky conditions. We were able to execute our run and carry game to put on good score. He noted there were defensive lapses during the match, with the Dogs scoring more freely than he would have liked. He said Alyssa Bannan has a sprained ankle. Optimistically she’ll be right for next week, at worst 1-2 weeks. Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke was proud of his team’s four-quarter effort and intensity around the contest. He feels Melbourne are the best team going around by a fair way. He highlighted that pre-season injuries have affected the Dogs overall match fitness but sees promising signs ahead. Next week, the Demons take on the Hawks at Kinetic Stadium (Friday, September 22 at 5:05pm).  MELBOURNE 2.3.15 5.7.37 8.7.55 12.11.83 WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.2.8 3.3.21 6.5.41 6.5.41 GOALS MELBOURNE Gay Hore Mithen Paxman Zanker 2 Hanks Sherriff WESTERN BULLDOGS Lamb 2 Berry McFarlane McLeod Wilcox BEST MELBOURNE Hanks McNamara Hore Pearce Gay Paxman WESTERN BULLDOGS Blackburn Lynch Lamb Pritchard Wilcox INJURIES MELBOURNE Bannan (ankle) Gay (hip) WESTERN BULLDOGS Wilcox (knee) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil WESTERN BULLDOGS Nil CROWD 1,457 at Casey Fields
  2. The Western Bulldogs and the Demons have history. Prior to the creation of the AFLW league, the AFL ran four years of exhibition matches featuring our two teams between 2013 and 2016. The winner holds the Hampson-Hardeman Cup, in honour of two women who were founders of the national women’s football competition. After 13 games the Demons hold nine wins, four losses record and currently hold the Cup after trouncing the Dogs last year by 64 points. The exhibition games were a precursor to formation of the AFLW league. Eight teams were granted licences including the Dees and the Dogs and thus began the national women’s football league. The Dogs rose early with a premiership cup in 2018 in Season Two. However, lately they have stalled, and their alumni of lost dogs includes some of the league’s most impressive names: Kearney, Conti, Brennan and our own Libby Birch. Bonnie Toogood has moved to Essendon. Hard names to replace and less than a handful of players remain from their premiership team. Selection this week The injury report suggests everyone is available, so Paxy comes in for sure. It will be interesting to see whether they bring Fitzy straight back too. Wilson will likely be the unlucky one to miss out. Bulldogs reported nil injuries last week and have Brit Gutknecht and Millie Brown listed as test. Our opponents, Western Bulldogs All Australian star Ellie Blackburn is clearly their matchwinner and there are other good role players such as stalwart Kirsty Lamb, Jess Fitzgerald, Sarah Hartwig and Deanna Berry. One improver is their ruck Alice Edmonds who, after leaving Richmond, has flourished at the Dogs under Nathan Burke and earned All Australian honours last season. The Western Bulldogs have only played at Casey Fields once and that was last season’s 64-point drubbing. Meggs view Another big score is on the cards this Saturday afternoon. Last week the Demons were again exciting when they were able to the win the ball and execute to outside runners. We are fantastic to watch, and Mick has the team firing early in the season. Loz Pearce was great last week and her battle with Alice Edmonds will be good to watch. Stinear last week praised our multi-faceted, versatile forward structure. It is amazing we have such a dynamic group and expect it will be a real headache for Nathan Burke on Saturday. The marking power of Tayla Harris and Eden Zanker, the speed of Alyssa Bannan, the sublime footy nous, and skills of Kate Hore, and our mids rolling forward to snap goals like Liv Purcell, Sarah Lampard, Blaithin Mackin and Lily Mithen did last week. Our opponents have lost their opening two games to Geelong by 48 points and to expansion side Hawthorn by seven points and have a percentage of 50.5%. On the other hand, the Dees have beaten contender Collingwood by 42 points and GWS away by 77 points to be second on the ladder with a percentage of 324.5%. Hope it’s a pleasant afternoon with not too much wind to hinder the skills. Go Dees! Melbourne by 45 points THE GAME Melbourne v Western Bulldogs at Casey Fields, on Saturday 16 September 2023 at 3:05pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 9 wins WB 4 wins At Casey Fields Melbourne 1 win WB 0 wins The Coaches Stinear 3 wins Burke 1 win MEDIA TV - live free on 7mate. Foxtel, Kayo. Check your local guides. Mobile – AFL Live Official App and AFLW Official App Radio - check your local guides. THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 10.13 (73) defeated WB 1.3 (9) at Casey Fields, 9 October 2022 This Season Seven Round Seven clash was all one-way traffic with the Dees earning a percentage boosting win and consolidating themselves in the Top Four. Other than an accidental clash of heads between Paxy and Loz Pearce it was simply a case of Melbourne’s system overwhelming anything the Dogs could muster. West and Purcell were instrumental in gaining control of the footy. Excitement machine Banno kicked three goals, with Harris putting her hand up for mark of the year and Zanker doing well too. Goals Melbourne: Bannan 3, Zanker 2, Harris 2, West, Hore, Duffy Western Bulldogs: Hartwig Best Melbourne: Paxman, West, Goldrick, Purcell Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, Ferres, Edmonds, Grant Injuries Melbourne: L. Pearce (head knock), Paxman (head knock) Western Bulldogs: Nil Reports: Nil Crowd: 2,154 at Casey Fields THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B L. Birch T. Gillard HB S. Goldrick M. Gay S. Heath C E. McNamara T. Hanks S.Lampard HF A. Bannan L. Mithen T. Harris F E. Zanker K. Hore FOLL L. Pearce E. West O. Purcell I/C (from) M. Chaplin G. Campbell B. Mackin P. Paxman C. Sherriff EMG J. Ivey R. Watt C. Wilson IN P. Paxman OUT C. Wilson (omitted) WESTERN BULLDOGS B I. Grant K. Lynch HB E. Georgostathis K. Coyne M. Gorham C R. Wilcox K. Lamb I. Pritchard HF C. Moody G. Newton G. Lagioia F S. Hartwig D. Berry FOLL A. Edmonds E. Blackburn J. Fitzgerald IC D. Carruthers A. Smith B. McFarlane K. McLeod H. Woodley EMG R. Cranston N. Ferres B. Hunt IN M. Gorham H. Woodley A. Smith OUT D. Bateman (omitted) N. Ferres (omitted) B. Hunt (omitted) Injury List: Round 3 Megan Fitzsimon (back) test Paxy Paxman Chaplin (quad) test
  3. On a balmy Saturday night in March, the Demons of 2023 were unleashed and, in a show of strength, they sent the Bulldogs packing to their kennel to lick their wounds after their resounding 50-point opening round victory. Things looked ominous early for the Demons with Bayley Fritsch, Steven May, Jack Viney and Christian Salem from their best 23 unavailable, compounded by the threat of facing up to a four man tall forward line of Darcy, Lobb, Ugle-Hagan and Naughton. However, in the end the Bulldog threats came to nothing — it was all bark and no bite with some simply appalling coaching moves removing any advantage they may have had. One had to feel for Tim English, who rucked essentially the whole match on his own against two AA quality players in Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy. He certainly was dominant before half time and over the match took six marks and 22 hit-outs. But he was never really rested against the double onslaught and it was not surprising they simply ground him into the turf. With other rucking options in Lobb, Darcy and Bruce it was astounding they were not used except for short cameo roles. When English waned, the ball just stopped coming out of the middle and around the packs, as the Melbourne mids led by Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver started to take advantage of the service from the double G’s. Instead of the Melbourne defenders trying to cover the multiple forays into their zone, the ball just stopped coming in. When the Sherrin stopped heading one way, it turned up multiple times in the Melbourne forward line. Taking full advantage of the offerings Kysaiah Pickett cut the particularly ineffective Bulldogs defence to pieces to amass four goals. And Ben Brown found the space he hadn’t experienced for years and picked up four of his own, while other Melbourne forwards also found a dysfunctional Bulldog defensive system easy to overcome. How many of the Melbourne goals came from players sitting on their own or out the back? Again something not seen for years since most sides employ zone defence to cover those types of options, but amazingly not the Bulldogs. Make no mistake, this goal avalanche wasn’t due to a change in Demon tactics of moving the ball into the forward line. To the fans it looked great as time and time again targets were hit with ease. But it was the complete collapse of the Bulldogs defence that left Tom McDonald, Brown, Kade Chandler and Pickett standing on their own inside the 50m line, dead in front. How could a coach allow this to happen? The same coach who left English to flounder on his own against overwhelming odds. The same coach who sent Mitch Hannan to Judd McVee instead of one of his experienced talls to create a mis-match. The Demon defenders put up a magnificent effort to deny the first half attacks of the Dogs. Jake Lever with nine marks and 13 intercepts was a central figure, while Harry Petty with six marks and seven intercepts backed him up again and again. The Bulldogs sole effective target in Naughton threatened constantly with his marking capability, but let the Demons off the hook with wayward kicking. Not a single Bulldogs forward bothered the goal umpire more than once and it was telling for them that majority of their score came from their mids and wingers. The question remains whether the Demons are that good, or were the Dogs that bad? Melbourne certainly looked far, far fitter than their opposition, and the prospect of the Double G’s doing similar damage in coming weeks is daunting for other coaches. More so when one considers the Demons will be bringing back a couple of their better premiership players in the coming weeks, making them even stronger. With a a day break to the trip to Brisbane who themselves were pulverised by Port in this round, we should get an even better picture of the strength and fitness of the side. After all the Lions made it to Preliminary finals last year, after disposing of the Demons. A bit of payback to come? The fans should be hoping to see more of the Dees that they know come out again after the glimpse seen against the Bulldogs. MELBOURNE 3.3.21 9.4.58 13.8.86 17.13.115 WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.4.16 5.9.39 8.10.58 9.11.65 GOALS MELBOURNE Brown Pickett 4 Gawn Spargo 2 Chandler Grundy Melksham Neal-Bullen Sparrow WESTERN BULLDOGS Baker Bontempelli Johannisen Liberatore Macrae Naughton Treloar Ugle-Hagan Williams BEST MELBOURNE Pickett Brown Gawn Petracca Rivers Lever WESTERN BULLDOGS Liberatore Richards Bontempelli Treloar Macrae INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil WESTERN BULLDOGS L Jones (neck) SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Jake Melksham (replaced Bailey Laurie at three-quarter time) WESTERN BULLDOGS Toby McLean (replaced Liam Jones at half-time) REPORTS MELBOURNE K Pickett for rough conduct on Bailey Smith WESTERN BULLDOGS Nil UMPIRES Leigh Fisher Andrew Stephens Andrew Heffernan Jacob Mollison OFFICIAL CROWD 48,103 at The MCG
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